Nick Ayala

Professor Ramos

English 1B

5 December 2018


The Manson Manipulation

According to The Webster Dictionary Manipulation, “is to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner.” Charles Manson was a mastermind of manipulation. He managed to manipulate hundreds of innocent runaways, criminals, and under aged girls. Although, many people who interacted with Manson in the past had said it was his charisma that controlled them to believe that he was some type of god, was it really? Why did he think he could lead a cult and be successful with it? Many psychologists like to title The Manson Family as a “destructive cult” because the cult members harmed and murdered both members of their own and unsuspected outsiders. According to psychologist Robert Liftin these specific cults have three features; a charismatic leader who becomes an object of worship, a leader who takes advantage of the group members and uses them for sex and financial gain, and heavy use of mind control. After hours of research about Manson and the way he treated his members, I learned just how terrifying it must have been but also how satisfying it must have felt to be “loved” by a “godly like” leader. Charles Manson knew how to get into his members’ heads and this just proves why his followers did everything he said.


The Manson Family originated in the summer of 1967 in the Haight Ashbury District of San Francisco, California. After Charles Manson had got out of prison due to over capacity in cells, he had stumbled across a women named Mary Brunner and moved in with her. She would later turn out to be Manson’s first victim. After imitating hippie culture to recruit similar followers like herself, Manson described himself as a mirror and stated that he was “reflecting what the kids wanted to see”. He knew he had started something once he convinced Mary to bring more women into her home and have an open relationship which he called free love. This small group of ten or less migrated to Los Angeles, in hopes of finding more hippies to recruit into this peace and love cult. Once Manson thought he had found the right person he would tell them that he was going to be the answer to all their problems and that everything was going to be okay when they were with him. Most of these members who he had recruited were young troubled women and young boys looking to be loved and cared for. He could pretend to be whatever his followers wanted him to be and that was the key to success in Manson’s manipulation. Manson wanted his cult to grow bigger and realized what he started could be revolutionary, so he then had males who idolized him recruit more young women up and down the coast of California. The Manson Family then grew to a number of 100 or more people.These people all looked up to one person, Charles Manson. He had a group of 20 to 30 members who would do absolutely anything for him. This was when Manson realized that he could use his power to his advantage. This crazy monster felt superior knowing that there was hundreds of people following him and 30 of them would do anything that he asked them to do. He had become what Liftin stated “an object of worship.” On the night of August 4th 1969, Manson started the planning of his first murder spree. This murder spree would lead to the death of actress Sharon Tate, her unborn baby, and many of her friends and family.


Manson’s family members were so fascinated by these evil ideas of his to start a race war and to become a prophet of society, only because of the hundreds of LSD trips they had undergone with him. According to Drug Science LSD is “a synthetic crystalline compound, lysergic acid diethylamide, that is a potent hallucinogenic drug.” This form of drug was popular in the 60’s and many people around the world were taking it. Former members of the cult have stated the LSD trips they had taken with him felt so intense that they would start crying in terror until Manson used his charisma to calm them down. They all listened to him preach repeatedly about “Helter Skelter.” Helter Skelter is a Beatles’ song that Manson believed was meant to start a race war between blacks and whites. He also believed that the blacks would kill all whites besides his family members. Manson completely misinterpreted the message of the song which was originally written about a roller coaster.  His followers believed that they would soon take over the world and repopulate everyone to their liking. Manson preached that “children are purer than adults because they had not yet been corrupted by an evil society and that male children deserved to have as much freedom as they desired.” This goes to show that Manson not only knew that he could manipulate and control lost, innocent, and troubled children but also believed that the males were more superior. There have been studies shown that Manson took advantage of many of his members, many of which were underage. Dianne Lake stated in a Daily Mail article, “He took his time to explore my body. He avoided the places that made me purr until I could barely stand it.” Lake was only 14 years old at the time. She was just one amongst the numerous amount of underage women who were members that may have also went through this experience with him. Lake stated, “I needed love and affection, and I needed a family. I needed to feel like I belonged somewhere, and he perceived that from the get-go.” He made them feel loved and wanted. Manson made the members of his family believe what he was doing was not only normal, but what a family should be. It is widely believed that he was also sexist towards women as a result of his childhood. Manson’s childhood was filled with strict parental figures and reform school teachers. Manson was a troubled child and loved to do the opposite of what he was told to. Manson believed that a man should always be the lead. As a result of his beliefs, a man was put in charge of every one of the murders that he had planned for his followers to commit. Essentially Manson made his women feel loved, but he still thought of them as inferior and only used them for his own advantage.

Many people, even today 50 years after the Manson murders took place, question his motive. Why did Charles Manson do this? How did he manage to get into the minds of hundreds of people? The answer to all of these questions is The monster theory. This theory was written by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and is made up of seven different parts. Out of the seven, thesis number six, “Fear of the Monster is really a kind of Desire,” is the best fit to explain why Charles Manson was able to control the members of his so called family. In his sixth thesis, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen states, “The monster is continually linked to forbidden practices, in order to normalize and to enforce.” Charles Manson is viewed as the leader of a cult that was notorious for the amount of sex, drug use, and illegal activities they took part in, which includes murder. The Manson family is viewed as all things evil, as well as Manson himself. Cohen goes on to say, “The same creatures who terrify and interdict can evoke potent escapist fantasies; the linking of monstrosity with the forbidden makes the monster all the more appealing.” Most people find serial killers/mass murders interesting to read, watch, and learn about because they look like us. Serial killers do not have fangs or scaly skin they walk amongst us and they look just the rest of us. The person you meet on the bus or on your daily commute could potentially be the next Charles Manson. These “monsters” were once someone’s friend, neighbor, and child.



Most monsters are uncategorizable because a fear of the unknown is normal. Charles Manson was one of the most dangerous people that lived on this Earth. Not only because he was a cult leader but also because he was so easily able to get into the minds of complete strangers. Manson found a way to control the actions, thoughts, and beliefs of other people at the peak of his “power.” Once Manson found that he had the ability to control the minds of others he got them to brutally murder innocent people. Nothing is more scarier than the act of a successful manipulation. Manson was somehow able to master the art of manipulation on hundreds of people that were more than willing to do as he said. This included brutal murders, vandalism, and drug usage. In the end, Manson was a monster but also a human being that looked just like the rest of us.



Annotated Bibliography

  1. “Manson Family Murders Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Aug. 2018, article source shows the facts and statistics about Charles Manson, it’s more of a bibliography of his because it shows his birthplace, family and etc. One thing I found really interesting about this article is the statistics about his killings, and which manson girls took place in which killing. It also shows his court dates and how many have been overturned, he recently died in prison about a year ago.


  1. ser, Super. “The Charles Manson (Tate-LaBianca Murder) Trial.” Famous Trials,  This article shows all of the trials that the manson family had done, it goes really into depth with each case and shows pictures of most of the sick crime scenes.


  1. “Charles Manson Death: Where Are the Family Members Now?” BBC News, BBC, 20 Nov. 2017, I chose this article because it shows you where the rest of the manson family is now, basically all of them have life sentences in prison or they died many years ago. Although there are a couple who changed their names and somehow got freed from prison, are they still considered dangerous? They agreed to be in cult and still took part in the planning of these killings so why aren’t they locked up like the rest?
  2. Show, The Infographics, director. Charles Manson. YouTube, YouTube, 13 Oct. 2018, I chose this source because it summarizes why Charles Manson did what he did, it really answered all my questions on the psychology aspect of why he wanted to be the leader in his cult and how much attention he wanted. He had around 20 people in his cult and had a group of girls named “The Manson family” who did everything he said. Why was everyone so obedient to him? It was as if he hypnotized all of them to kill who he wanted. I think this video shows a lot of details and answered most of my questions that i didn’t know about the monster charles manson.


  1. “Charles Manson Death: Where Are the Family Members Now?” BBC News, BBC, 20 Nov. 2017, This NY times article talked about how Charles Manson died in prison. He was sentenced to life many years ago and after many court dates he still never got released, he ended up just giving up and realized he would never get out.
  2. King, Jennifer. “’The Leering Face of Evil’: Manson Brainwashed Hippie Youth to Kill.” ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 20 Nov. 2017, This entire article was about how charles manson took advantage of many people in the hippie youth community to kill others. It talks about the backstory and how he manipulated them into thinking he was above and god like.